It’s a funny word, “moderate.” We throw it around habitually, as a positive and aggrandizing description, but we rarely stop to ask the crucial, prerequisite question: “Relative to what?”
In some circumstances—when drinking, for example—moderation can indeed be a virtue. In others, it is among the worst of vices. Justice Antonin Scalia liked to mock the notion that one could approach the U.S. Constitution in a “moderate” manner. “What,” Scalia inquired, “is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you’d like it to mean?” The same question can be asked about individual rights. What, one wonders, is a “moderate” view of the right to free speech or the right to a jury trial or the right to keep and bear arms. Would a “moderate” version of the Second Amendment read: “Shall not be infringed, but ...”?
Joe Biden, who as this was being written seemed certain to be his party’s nominee for president of the United States, is often cast as the “moderate” candidate within the Democratic field. But, again, we must ask, “Compared to what?” Next to Bernie Sanders, Biden is indeed a “moderate” on economics. When compared to the established American order, however, he is nothing of the sort. On the contrary: Despite the “aw shucks, folks” persona he has worked so hard to cultivate, Biden is set to be the most radical presidential contender that a major party has offered up since 1972.
Nowhere is his radicalism more pronounced than on the issue of firearms. It is not just that Biden is out there on the fringe—although, he most certainly is—it is that he is out there on the fringe while pretending he is in the mainstream.
Over decades in Congress, and then as Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden has perfected the “nobody is coming for your hunting rifle” approach that so infuriates advocates of the Second Amendment, as it is a deception. Thus it is that, instead of honestly presenting his case, Biden routinely offers up non sequiturs, such as that his preferred gun-control measures must be acceptable because one of his sons owns firearms. Thus, it is that he has got into the peculiar habit of insisting that “nobody is going to take away your guns,” even as he advocates doing precisely that. In 2008, Biden attempted to deflect criticism of Barack Obama’s broader gun-control policies by telling voters: “I guarantee you Barack Obama ain’t taking my shotguns,” a claim that nobody, literally nobody, had made. This tendency, which was irritating enough at the time, has become more, not less, pronounced over time.
As it happens, talking aggressively about shotguns when the topic at hand has nothing to do with shotguns is a favorite tactic of Biden’s—to the point at which he is happy to dispense advice that, if taken at face value, would land his audience in prison. Back in 2013, when Biden was leading a push to ban the most-commonly owned rifle in the United States, he offered up some home-defense tips that horrified pretty much everybody who was familiar with the law: “I said, ‘Jill (referring to his wife), if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.’” Which, Biden explained, is why “you don’t need an AR-15,” which, in comparison to a shotgun, according to Biden, is “harder to aim” and “harder to use.” “In fact,” Biden concluded, “you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself.”
Biden’s list of firearms “you don’t need” is as long as it is incomprehensible. According to the former vice president, you don’t need 30 rounds; you don’t need “20, 30, 40, 50 clips in a weapon”; you don’t need “magazines that can hold multiple bullets in them”; you don’t need a “magazine with 100 clips in it”; you don’t need an “AR-15”; you don’t need an “AR-14”; and you most definitely don’t need a “weapon of war”—whatever that is.
What do you need? Well, per Biden, you need a gun that doesn’t actually exist. “If I get elected president of the United States of America,” he promised in his inimitable rambling style, “with your help, if that happens, guns, we have the capacity now in a James Bond-style to make sure no one can pull a trigger unless their DNA and fingerprint is on it. We have that capacity to do it now. You know it.”
In fact, nobody “knows this,” because it isn’t true. James Bond is a fictional character and the gadgets he uses in his movies are fictional, too. The idea of a fingerprint-secured gun has, indeed, been kicking around for a while. But, thus far at least, all attempts to implement it have failed. There is a reason that the camera function on your iPhone bypasses the fingerprint scanner that protects everything else on the device, and that is that Apple does not consider its biometric testing to be sufficiently reliable. Nevertheless, Joe Biden thinks he is going to convince people who hope to protect themselves against home invasions to adopt the same faulty technology that has been rejected by selfie enthusiasts.
It’s also unclear what Biden intends to do with the more than 400 million non-“smart guns” that are already in circulation; how he intends to get around the limitations that batteries and circuits impose upon what is, at present, an extremely resilient design; whether he is happy to price out poorer Americans from exercising their enumerated constitutional rights; and how he will convince criminals to play along. One cannot help but suspect that Biden has no answers to any of these questions. He saw something in a movie once, thought it was cool and incorporated it into his platform.
Which is all a long way of saying that, when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms, Joe Biden is extraordinarily thoughtless and extremely dangerous. With his self-contradictory statements, his preposterous fixation on shotguns and his enthusiasm for mythical technology, Biden has demonstrated time and time again not only that he does not understand the Second Amendment, but that he has no interest in remedying that. At a campaign stop back in February, Biden flatly dismissed the idea that a well-armed population could act as a check on a tyrannical central government. “Guess what?” Biden told a crowd in New Hampshire. “The fact is, if you’re going to take on the government, you need an F-15 with Hellfire missiles. There’s no way an AK-47 is going to take care of you if you’re worried about the government knocking down your door.”
That a prospective president of the United States would talk in this manner is, in and of itself, appalling. But that a man with more than 50 years’ worth of political experience remains unaware of the advantage that private gun ownership confers upon the citizenry is little short of astonishing. Biden was alive during Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Did he not notice how difficult it proved even for a highly skilled military to overcome an armed insurgency? And is he unaware of America’s own history? Of its revolution? Of its civil-rights heroes? We are often told that James Madison “could not imagine” the modern world, which, in one sense, is true: Madison could not have imagined the appalling tyrannies of the twentieth century, which, at the cost of hundreds of millions of innocent lives, proved just how wise he and the other Founders were.
Given the absurdity of Biden’s views, it would be tempting to simply laugh them off. But this, alas, is no laughing matter. Statistically, there is a reasonable chance that Joe Biden will become president, and, should he become president, there is a serious chance that he will immediately set about dismantling the Second Amendment. As his campaign website makes clear, Biden supports every single measure that the gun-control movement is currently trying to sell. He is for a ban on standard capacity magazines; he is for the prohibition of the most commonly owned rifle in America; he is for the extension of background checks to private transfers, including transfers between family members; and, inexplicably, he believes that the expansion of concealed carry is “irrational.”
In addition, Biden hopes to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act—a bipartisan and commonsensical law that prevents renegade judges from permitting well-funded activists from suing gun manufacturers out of existence if or when their products are willfully misused by criminals. There is only one reason for a politician to oppose the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, and that is that he wishes to drive the firearms industry out of business. Why go to the effort of banning the firearms you dislike when you can ensure by the backdoor that no more can be made?
And that’s just the stuff he has vetted. Off the cuff, Biden is even more extreme than on paper. At a recent rally, he publicly promised that, should he form an administration, he will appoint Beto O’Rourke “to take care of the gun problem with me.” Why? Because, like O’Rourke, Biden intends to confiscate certain firearms. In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper last year, he was asked whether “a Biden administration means they’re going to come for my guns.” Smiling, Biden said that it would. “Bingo!” he exclaimed. “You’re right if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is, they should be illegal, period. Look, the Second Amendment doesn’t say you can’t restrict the kinds of weapons people can own.”
Such a law would undoubtedly be unconstitutional, but, should he get his way, that would not necessarily matter. As was made abundantly clear during his 35 years in the U.S. Senate—and subsequently during his eight-year stint as vice president—Joe Biden prefers judges who do not accept that the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” means “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” On the campaign trail, Biden claims vaguely that he supports the Second Amendment. In practice, however, he has proven to be precisely the sort of “Second Amendment but” politician whose tenure leaves the right less secure than it was beforehand. Biden served as a cheerleader for Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, both of whom voted to uphold Chicago’s absolute ban on handguns in McDonald v. Chicago, and he has promised to nominate similar judges to the U.S. Supreme Court. Americans who wish to retain their elementary rights should believe him, and act accordingly.
It is one of the great perversities of American politics that the figure who most often rants about “malarkey” is himself its greatest purveyor. Joe Biden wants America’s voters to believe that he is a straight-talkin’, no-nonsense centrist with no time for ideology. But he is no such thing. Politicians who truly “support the Second Amendment” do not praise figures such as Beto O’Rourke, or promise CNN hosts that they intend to ban rifles, or head up gun-control task forces, or oppose legislation that protects gunmakers from lawfare, or fantasize about weapons that exist only in movies, or cast shotguns as the only protected type of firearm, or fantasize aloud about shooting wildly into the darkness, or praise judges who refuse to accept one of the component parts of the U.S. Bill of Rights.
Joe Biden is no moderate. Biden wants your guns.
Biden on Biden
A History of His Thoughts on Your Rights
1986: “During my 12 and a half years as a member of this body, I have never believed that additional gun control or federal registration of guns would reduce crime. I am convinced that a criminal who wants a firearm can get one through illegal, nontraceable, unregistered sources, with or without gun control.”
Joe Biden said this before voting for the “Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986.”
When NBC News recently asked the Biden campaign about this quote, Bill Russo, a spokesperson for Biden, said, “Cherry-picking an out of context quote from 1986 doesn’t even begin to address Joe Biden’s unparalleled record on gun safety.”
2007: “I tell you what, if that’s his baby, he needs help. I think he just made an admission against self-interest. I don’t know if he’s mentally qualified to own that gun,” said Joe Biden during a presidential debate when he was showed a video of someone saying a popular semi-automatic rifle was his “baby.”
2008: “I guarantee you Barack Obama ain’t taking my shotguns,” said Joe Biden to deflect criticism from Barack Obama’s gun-control policies.
2013: “I said, ‘Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house,’” said Joe Biden in an interview with Field & Stream. This illustrates, Biden said, why “you don’t need an AR-15,” which, according to Biden, is “harder to aim” and “harder to use” than a shotgun.
2013: “We simply don’t have the time or the manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately,” said Joe Biden when asked about the Obama administration’s lack of enforcement of gun laws that were already on the books.
2013: “There is a whole new sort of group of individuals now...that never hunt at all. But they own guns for one of two reasons: self-protection, or they just like the feel of that AR-15 at the range. They like the way it feels. It’s like driving a Ferrari, you know,” said Joe Biden on MSNBC.
2013: “You know, they make fun of my saying about use a shotgun if someone’s invading your home, guess what, use a shotgun on someone invading your home and you don’t kill your kids, use an AR-15, it goes through your wall and it can kill your kid in the bedroom,” said Joe Biden on MSNBC; clearly, Biden doesn’t know anything about the many bullet/load choices now available for rifles and shotguns.
2013: “Kinda scary man, the black helicopter crowd is really upset,” said Joe Biden during a campaign speech. “No way that Uncle Sam can go find out whether you own a gun because we’re about to really take away all your rights and you’re not going to be able to defend yourself and we’re going to swoop down with Special Forces folks and gather up every gun in America. It’s bizarre. But that’s what’s being sold out there,” said then Vice President Joe Biden said this in a speech at the White House.
2019: “Bingo!” said Biden after CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked whether “a Biden administration means they’re going to come for my guns.”
Biden went on to say: “You’re right if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is, they should be illegal, period. Look, the Second Amendment doesn’t say you can’t restrict the kinds of weapons people can own.”
2019: “If I get elected president of the United States of America, with your help, if that happens, guns, we have the capacity now in a James Bond-style to make sure no one can pull a trigger unless their DNA and fingerprint is on it. We have that capacity to do it now. You know it,” said Joe Biden when referring to so-called “smart guns,” a thus far unproven technology that would theoretically only allow an “authorized” person to use a particular gun. A mandate that guns have such a futuristic technology would mean a ban on every gun now available.
2020: “Guess what?” Joe Biden told a crowd in New Hampshire at a campaign stop in February. “The fact is, if you’re going to take on the government, you need an F-15 with Hellfire missiles. There’s no way an AK-47 is going to take care of you if you’re worried about the government knocking down your door.”
2020: “You are actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take away our guns,” said a worker in a hardhat to Joe Biden while Biden toured a Fiat Chrysler plant on March 10. “You’re full of sh--,” Biden said to the worker. “I did not—no, no, shush. Shush. I support the Second Amendment.” When the Fiat Chrysler employee could get another word in, he said, “You were with Beto when he said he was going to take our guns.”
2020: Biden said it’s a problem that “we’re unwilling to have a rational policy that says you cannot have 20, 30, 40, 50 clips in a weapon.” Biden said this on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. As Biden is often credited with being the author of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, you’d think that by now he’d at least understand basic gun terminology; after all, shouldn’t writing legislation banning something at least require a politician to have a basic knowledge of what they want to ban?
2020: “The idea that instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at ‘em with a knife or something, shoot ‘em in the leg instead of in the heart, is a very different thing,” said Joe Biden in an address to black community leaders in Wilmington, Del.
Biden is clearly confused here, as is often the case, as an “unarmed person” wouldn’t have a “knife.” Also, in such a life-or-death situation—and a bad guy coming with a knife is clearly life or death—police officers have long been trained to appreciate what has been called the “reactionary gap.” An assailant can cover a lot of ground in the time it takes an officer to react. Asking them to shoot a leg in such a blurry-fast moment could get police officers killed.
2020: Biden’s Official Anti-Second Amendment Wish List
Joe Biden published his anti-gun wish list for all to see. Guess what’s on it—yup, you and your freedom. Biden’s list includes gun bans, forced confiscations of guns, mandatory licensing and many other restrictions. Add to this the fact that he’d nominate judges, including any justices to possible openings on the U.S. Supreme Court, who would vote to gut the Second Amendment of our individual right. It’s clear he is telling us that, if he got his way, he would terminate our right to keep and bear arms.
“Joe Biden has taken on the National Rifle Association (NRA) on the national stage and won—twice. In 1993, he shepherded through Congress the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the background check system that has since kept more than 3 million firearms out of dangerous hands. In 1994, Biden—along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein—secured the passage of 10-year bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. As president, Joe Biden will defeat the NRA again,” begins Joe Biden’s official gun-control plan, as found on his campaign website.
The truth is, the NRA was instrumental in fixing many of the more egregious problems within the legislation that created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). As for the 1994 “Federal Assault Weapons Ban,” the NRA ensured the ban would go away in 10 years, then won this protracted battle in 2004 by lobbying for legislators to allow it to sunset.
Biden also says that he would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), so that gun makers and dealers can again be sued because someone used a lawfully manufactured firearm, regardless of if it was acquired legally or illegally, to commit a crime. This is like allowing people to sue GM if, say, someone used a Chevy to harm someone else.
Biden lies about this legislation by saying the PLCAA “protects these manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products—a protection granted to no other industry.” The PLCAA plainly says that gun manufacturers can be held civilly liable if they make a faulty product, if they break the law and more. Biden has spent his life in politics: nevertheless, he should know that omission is a form of lying.
Biden’s anti-gun wish list also says he’d “[b]an the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” After that he says he’d
“[r]egulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.” This would create a federal registry for these popular semi-automatic rifles—and maybe for other firearms, as the “assault weapons” term is a political one that is very expandable.
After saying he’d make people register their semi-automatic rifles, Biden says he’d use government funds to “[b]uy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities…. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.”
Biden then says, to reduce “stockpiling of weapons,” he supports “legislation restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one.”
Biden also wants to prey on Social Security recipients by reinstating “the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons, which President Trump reversed.” In 2016, the Obama administration weaponized the Social Security Administration against seniors by sending the names of those, for example, who needed help filling out forms, to NICS so these citizens wouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms.
In his long list of gun bans, restrictions and more, Biden also says he’d “enact legislation to give states and local governments grants to require individuals to obtain a license prior to purchasing a gun.” So this right, as protected in the U.S. Bill of Rights, wouldn’t be a right at all once Biden was done; it would just be a legal privilege citizens could apply for with the full knowledge their right to keep and bear arms could be denied at any time.
As a caveat, Biden even says he’d “[p]ut America on the path to ensuring that 100% of firearms sold in America are smart guns.” This is a ban on every gun now sold in America, so that maybe someday we can have battery-powered, experimental models that somehow might identify users with bracelets, fingerprint readers or other devices.
Biden, of course, includes “universal” background check laws, “legislation requiring firearm owners to store weapons safely in their homes” and much more in his comprehensive plan to turn you into a helpless victim in waiting.